Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) participates in warmups prior to the game against the Washington Commanders at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Perfect at home, Cowboys cite comfort of playoff spot against Packers

Quarterback Dak Prescott and the NFL’s highest-scoring offense enter the playoffs with a confidence that can only be found at home.

The Cowboys host the Green Bay Packers in a wild-card matchup Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium, where Dallas had a perfect 8-0 record during the regular season.

Dallas averaged a league-high 29.9 points per game, posted a 12-5 record and won the NFC East for the second time in three years.

Prescott threw 36 touchdown passes, which led the NFL. CeeDee Lamb caught a league-high 135 passes for 1,749 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.

The statistics are impressive, but the Cowboys want something bigger: playoff success.

“Obviously, there’s going to be a sense of urgency because there’s no tomorrow, because it’s win-or-go-home every single week,” Cowboys wideout Brandin Cooks said. “At the end of the day, we’re looking at a great team (in the Packers) that has been playing at a high level to finish this season.

“As far as pressure (goes), no, because we know what’s in front of us. It’s playoff ball. That’s the best of everyone’s ball. We’ve just got to show up and continue to be who we are without putting more on ourselves than we need to. … We’ve just got to take care of business.”

Green Bay travels to Texas in an underdog role, but not without an air of confidence. The Packers, who have one of the NFL’s youngest rosters, won their last three games and six of their final eight with multiple strong showings from quarterback Jordan Love as running back Aaron Jones finally looked healthy.

Love threw 32 touchdown passes, which trailed only Prescott. He took control in his final eight starts as he threw for 18 touchdowns with only one interception.

“Everybody looks to him as a leader,” said guard Jon Runyan of Love’s development. “He’s got complete control of this offense, and what he does. We trust him, and you’re able to see it on the field.

Rookie wideout Jayden Reed led the team with 912 yards from scrimmage (793 receiving, 119 rushing) and 10 touchdowns (eight receiving, two rushing). Jones added 889 yards from scrimmage (656 rushing, 233 receiving) and three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving).

Packers coach Matt LaFleur said his team is playing as if it has nothing to lose.

“I think for us it’s just the opportunity to be in the dance and have a great week of preparation and put our best foot forward,” LaFleur said. “I think we’ve been going through this the last few weeks. We knew what was at stake. I mean, the last three weeks basically have been playoff games for us. So, really, it’s the next opportunity.”

On the opposite sideline, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy will have a chance to make history against his former team. McCarthy won a Super Bowl as the Packers coach during the 2010 season, and he can become the first person to win a playoff game against a team with which he won the Super Bowl as head coach.

McCarthy deflected questions about his tenure in Green Bay and what the game meant to him.

“This game’s about our commitment,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”

Both teams had one injured player sit out the first practice of the week. Packers running back A.J. Dillon was sidelined by thumb and neck injuries, and Cowboys cornerback Stephon Gilmore sat out because of a shoulder injury. Gilmore said he’s confident he’ll be on the field Sunday.

The teams’ most recent matchup was Nov. 13, 2022, when Green Bay held on for a 31-28 win. This is their first playoff meeting since Jan. 15, 2017, when Green Bay won 34-31 in Dallas.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa (97) puts pressure on Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the first half during the wild card game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Dak Prescott, Cowboys rout Buccaneers to end road playoff woes

Dak Prescott passed for four touchdowns and rushed for another to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a dominating 31-14 victory over the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night in the NFC wild-card round.

Prescott passed for 305 yards while guiding the fifth-seeded Cowboys to their first playoff road victory since prevailing 30-20 over the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 17, 1993 at Candlestick Park. Dallas broke an eight-game skid in that situation.

Ironically, the Cowboys will visit the second-seeded 49ers on Sunday in the divisional round.

Dalton Schultz caught seven passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns while Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb also had scoring receptions for the Cowboys. Tony Pollard rushed for 77 yards on 15 carries.

Tom Brady was 35-of-66 passing for 351 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the fourth-seeded Buccaneers. Brady hasn’t yet committed to returning to Tampa Bay, playing for another team next season or retiring.

Julio Jones and Cameron Brate caught touchdown passes and Chris Godwin had 10 receptions for 85 yards for the Buccaneers.

Cowboys kicker Brett Maher set an NFL postseason record by missing four extra-point attempts. Maher missed three to the right and one to the left.

Dallas didn’t record a first down on either of its first two possessions but traveled 80 yards on seven plays during its third time with the ball. The Cowboys capped it when Prescott threw a 22-yard scoring pass to Schultz with 6:28 left in the opening quarter.

Tampa Bay had a chance to tie the score but Brady was intercepted in the end zone by Jayron Kearse on the second play of the second quarter.

Dallas responded with a 15-play, 80-yard drive that chewed 8:38 off the clock. Prescott scored the touchdown while cruising to the left on a 1-yard run.

The Cowboys delivered an 11-play, 91-yard excursion later in the quarter. This time, Prescott hit Schultz on an 11-yard throw to make it 18-0 with 27 seconds left in the half.

Dallas continued its domination with another long drive in the third quarter. The Cowboys meandered 86 yards on eight plays with Prescott hitting Gallup on a 2-yard score. Maher’s fourth miss left the Dallas lead at 24.

Tampa Bay got on the board when Brady hit Jones with a 30-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the third quarter. The two-point conversion failed.

Due to Maher’s kicking problems, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy waved the kicking unit off on fourth-and-4 in the fourth quarter. Instead, Dallas went for it and Prescott hit a wide-open Lamb for an 18-yard score with 10:13 remaining.

Maher entered and kicked an extra point right down the middle.

–Field Level Media

Jan 10, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans linebacker David Long Jr., (51) and cornerback Desmond King II (33) stop Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) during the Tennessee Titans game against the Baltimore Ravens. Mandatory Credit: George Walker/The Tennessean via USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson rushes Ravens past Titans

Lamar Jackson rushed for a touchdown en route to recording his first NFL playoff win in the Baltimore Ravens’ 20-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday in Nashville, Tenn.

Jackson completed 17 of 24 passes for 179 yards and rushed 16 times for 136 yards, including a 48-yard score with 2:32 left in the second quarter. His performance helped fifth-seeded Baltimore outgain fourth-seeded Tennessee, 401-209.

The victory propels the Ravens into the AFC semifinals next weekend, when they’ll visit either the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs or second-seeded Buffalo Bills. That will depend on the result of Sunday night’s matchup between the sixth-seeded Cleveland Browns and third-seeded Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Titans failed to build on a 10-0 first quarter lead as their high-powered offense couldn’t crank up the running game. NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry, who authored the eighth 2,000-yard rushing season in league history, was held to 40 yards on 18 carries by a defense that used run blitzes liberally.

Tennessee initiated scoring with 5:39 left in the first quarter on Ryan Tannehill’s 10-yard pass to A.J. Brown. It upped the lead to 10-0 just under four minutes later, turning Malcolm Butler’s interception of Jackson into Stephen Gostkowski’s 45-yard field goal.

Baltimore got on the board with 10:02 remaining in the first half on Justin Tucker’s 33-yard field goal, then tied the score on Jackson’s electrifying third down touchdown scamper.

Rookie J.K. Dobbins gave the Ravens the lead for good on a 4-yard scoring run with 9:01 left in the third quarter, finishing off a 77-yard drive.

Gostkowski pulled the Titans within 17-13 by nailing a 25-yard field goal to start the fourth quarter, but Tucker increased the lead to seven on a 51-yard boot with 4:23 remaining.

Tennessee’s last chance to tie the game ended when Tannehill was intercepted by Marcus Peters on the first play after the two-minute warning.

Tannehill finished the game 18 of 26 for 165 yards. The Titans managed only 83 total yards after the first quarter.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (11) runs the ball against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half in the AFC Wild Card game at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Bills end postseason skid with wild-card win over Colts

Josh Allen passed for 324 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another and the Buffalo Bills recorded their first playoff victory since 1995 by notching a 27-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in an AFC wild-card game at Orchard Park, N.Y.

Stefon Diggs caught six passes for 128 yards and a touchdown, Dawson Knox also had a scoring reception and Tyler Bass kicked two field goals as second-seeded Buffalo snapped a six-game postseason skid. The Bills’ opponent in the divisional round hasn’t yet been determined.

Allen completed 26 of 35 passes and added 54 yards on 11 carries for Buffalo, which has won seven consecutive games.

Philip Rivers completed 27 of 46 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns for the seventh-seeded Colts. Jonathan Taylor rushed for 78 yards and a score on 21 carries while Jack Doyle and Zach Pascal caught scoring passes.

The Colts took possession with 2:30 left for a final gasp and Rivers later hit a sliding Pascal for 17 yards on fourth down to the Bills’ 46-yard line. Indianapolis couldn’t move any closer and Rivers’ final-second Hail Mary pass was broken up by Buffalo’s Micah Hyde.

The late defensive stand allowed the Bills to leave the field victorious in the postseason for the first time since a club led by Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas engineered a 37-22 win over the Miami Dolphins in a wild-card matchup on Dec. 30, 1995.

Buffalo held a 24-10 lead after Allen connected with Diggs on a 35-yard scoring play with 14:10 left in the contest. The Colts answered with Rivers’ 9-yard touchdown throw to Pascal, but an ensuing two-point run by Taylor failed and left Indianapolis trailing 24-16 with 11:32 left.

Bass boomed a 54-yard field goal through the uprights to make it an 11-point margin with 8:08 remaining. But the Colts quickly moved 76 yards on five plays with Rivers hitting Doyle on a 27-yard scoring pass and on the ensuing two-point conversion to move within 27-24 with 6:13 left.

Indianapolis outgained the Bills 472-397.

Buffalo led 14-10 at halftime after a questionable Indianapolis decision to pass on a field goal.

The Colts were leading 10-7 and had first-and-goal on the Bills’ 4-yard line but came up empty on four straight plays, including an incomplete fourth-down pass from Rivers to Michael Pittman Jr.

The Bills took over with 1:46 remaining and moved 96 yards on 10 plays. Allen capped the drive with a 5-yard keeper with 14 seconds left to give Buffalo the four-point halftime lead.

Buffalo took a 17-10 lead when Bass booted a 46-yard field goal with 11:10 left in the third quarter. Indianapolis attempted to counter but Rodrigo Blankenship missed a 33-yard field-goal attempt that clanked off the right upright.

Earlier, the Bills held a 7-3 lead on Allen’s 3-yard scoring pass to Knox with 1:49 left. Taylor scored from the 1 to give Indianapolis a 10-7 edge with 8:07 left in the half.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) throws a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Bears biggest wild-card weekend underdogs

The Washington Football Team won the NFC East with a 7-9 record, but it’s the Chicago Bears who were installed as the biggest underdogs on Sunday night for wild-card weekend.

Fourth-seeded Washington will play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who earned the NFC’s top wild-card spot. The Bucs were installed as 7.5-point favorites by DraftKings shortly after Washington secured the final playoff spot with a win over Philadelphia in the final regular-season game on Sunday night.

The Bears lost to top-seeded Green Bay on Sunday but qualified for the postseason at 8-8 when the Arizona Cardinals lost to the Los Angeles Rams. Chicago is a 9.5-point underdog at the New Orleans Saints by DraftKings.

The other NFC matchup will pit the Rams at the Seattle Seahawks, who are 4.5-point favorites.

The final AFC order was established when the Tennessee Titans won the South division with a last-second win over the Houston Texans. That relegated Indianapolis to the seventh seed in the conference, and the Colts have been installed as 6.5-point underdogs at No. 2 seed Buffalo in the first game on Saturday.

Fifth-seeded Baltimore joined Tampa Bay as the only road favorites next weekend, with the Ravens favored by 3.5 points at Tennessee.

Wild-card weekend will conclude with Cleveland playing its first playoff game since 2002 at Pittsburgh, with the third-seeded Steelers installed as early 3.5-point favorites by DraftKings.

–Field Level Media


2018 World Series Odds

We take a quick break from the pigskin to go through the 2018 MLB World Series odds.

Following a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday, the Colorado Rockies are forced to play in a Wild Card matchup against the Chicago Cubs. Tomorrow, the New York Yankees (who boast the third best record in baseball) are forced to play against the Oakland Athletics. After that, the playoffs are a mystery, although the Boston Red Sox certainly seem to be in good shape.

World Series odds



Wild Card Appearances (2002-2018)

Since the NFL was restructured in 2002, there are four teams that have not played in the postseason as a wild card. The Patriots, Bears, Texans and Buccaneers have either won their division or missed the playoffs completely.

In the same time frame, the Patriots have made 14 postseason appearances. Combined, the Bears, Bucs and Texans have made 10 appearances. 

Amount of wild card appearances is a good metric for the continued strength of a division as a whole. The graphic below displays each division and the number of wild card appearances since 2002. The AFC North comes out on top, boasting five consecutive seasons from 2008-2012 in which they sent at least two teams to the postseason. The AFC East and NFC West each finished with only six appearances.